February 13, 2008

24/7 Summit

Landmark Conference Draws Global Video Experts

By James Tella

Video creators, scholars, activists, policy makers, technologists and entrepreneurs gathered at USC to focus on the fate and future of visual media in the 21st century during 24/7: A DIY Video Summit—a first-of-its-kind international event held at an academic institution.

Hosted by the Institute for Multimedia Literacy, the School of Cinematic Arts and the Annenberg School, 24/7’s goal was to unite the creative minds involved in the spectrum of do-it-yourself (DIY) video communities emerging in new media ecology. From Friday Feb. 8 through Sunday Feb. 10, participants explored the incredible dynamic at play as millions of people flock to online video sharing sites like YouTube, Revver, imeem, Stage6 and Eyespot where they watch and contribute video content around the clock.

Event organizers, speakers, curators and workshop leaders reflected some of the leading thinkers in the field today. Among them
Participants of 24/7 explored the incredible dynamic at play as millions of people flock to online video sharing sites like YouTube.
were Henry Jenkins, Yochai Benkler, John Seely Brown, Joi Ito and Howard Rheingold. The project was co-chaired by SCA researcher and youth media expert Mizuko Ito, and Steve Anderson, director of the SCA’s new Media Arts & Practice Ph.D. program.

“It went spectacularly well,” said Anderson. “Our guest speakers were able to address the range of things that are represented by DIY culture in general. Although DIY video was what brought everyone together, the conversation really blossomed out into a lot of other areas. In particular, I was excited to see conversations happening among disparate groups of people who don’t normally get a chance to interact – not just from one creator community to another, but also people from industry getting a chance to talk to the makers, fans and academics.”

With 150 paid registrations (including attendees from Amsterdam, Germany, Mexico and France) for the weekend’s academic conference tracks alone that covered topics such as intellectual property, media creation, distribution and new-media design tools, guests also flocked to 24/7’s free public video screenings, where the fare ranged from DIY design video, activist documentary and youth media to machinima, fan vids and anime music videos.

The weekend’s academic conference tracks alone  covered topics such as intellectual property, media creation, distribution and new-media design tools.
“Some of the challenges posed here are very important road blocks that we need to think about if we’re going to achieve a diverse and participatory society—one that allows a lot of important ideas to be heard that are blocked by the current configuration of mass media,” said co-director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program Henry Jenkins, who spoke during 24/7’s State of the Art panel, which looked beyond the hype and misunderstanding of mainstream media and focused on the current state of DIY video and its promise for the future.
Writing regularly on media and cultural change, Jenkins is one of the principal investigators for The Education Arcade, a consortium of educators and business leaders working to promote the educational use of computer and video games. His newest books include Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide and Fans, Bloggers and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture.

Jenkins went on to add, “What this conference is doing really well is bringing in all these different communities to talk to each other about their shared use of this platform. That’s what’s going to spark change.”

Anderson noted that the IML intends to continue the momentum by planning events in coming years, but for now, the 24/7 Web site will serve as a repository for documentation of the event and also a hub for ongoing conversations.

“People from around the world are already blogging about the weekend, posting images and videos that convey their excitement about it,” Anderson added. “It’s already showing signs of having a very dynamic life beyond the event.”